6 tips for working from home (and actually being productive)

by Rachel Smith
13 March 2020

Freelancers everywhere are watching, rather bemused, as the apocalypse looms (joking, sort of) and working from home is becoming the norm, rather than the exception. How long this lasts is anyone’s guess, of course, but it’s the only way if you want to have any chance of avoiding Covid-19. Well, that and copious amounts of hand-washing.

And, as someone who has worked from home for close to 20 years, I want to share some essential tips for getting work done, or at the very least, not going bonkers.

1. Avoid distraction

That means TV, Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp messages and phone calls from your mum asking when you last washed your hands. Turn off all alerts and knuckle down, my friend. (What works for me is 50 minute sprints of writing using EggTimer – you can actually accomplish quite a lot in 50 minutes, if you have everything else muted.) You may take a 5 minute break in between 50 min stints to fall down the social media rabbit hole.

2. Embrace the sad desk lunch

I know, I know. You’re used to posh cafe salads, poke bowls, easy food court takeaways and fancy-pants team lunches, right? It’ll be an adjustment shifting to weird toasties and last night’s leftover pizza, but just remember anything flies if it’s edible and still within the use-by date.

3. Team tracksuit bottoms with a professional top

That’s if you are forced to do a WIP with the boss on Zoom or Skype. If they’re leaving you to your own devices, feel free to go full feral.

4. Work wherever you want.

Desk, bed, couch – it’s open slather, and one of the beauties of working from home is that no one gives a Scooby-doo about your ergonomics. Just make sure you do a few extra back stretches because 8 hours on the couch with a computer on your lap and your feet on the coffee table can spiral, fast. And when everything’s in lockdown out there, you can forget about booking an adjustment with your osteo.

5. If you run out of loo paper…

… realise that it’s actually ok. The world will keep turning. Don’t turn to kitchen roll or tissues, it’ll just block up the loo and you’ll have to spend hundreds on a plumber who will almost certainly charge Coronavirus penalty rates. Psst. You can always wash your bits in the shower if things get really dire.

6. Allow yourself 1 hour of virtual downtime.

Everyone needs to recharge when working from home. If you can’t go outside and you’re having colleague conversation withdrawal symptoms, either get on the phone for a gasbag or invite them for a virtual Facetime lunch catch-up where you can watch each other eating your sad desk lunches and reminisce about ‘life in the office’.

Are you, too, a veteran at self-isolation? What would be your top tips for working from home?

Rachel Smith

3 responses on "6 tips for working from home (and actually being productive)"

  1. Mariella says:

    Be nice to your pets! They’re your work colleagues now. And if you don’t give them their due attention, they will walk all over you. Actually, all over your keyboard. And knock pens onto the floor. (Trust me.)

  2. Rachel Smith says:

    Yes, ignore your furry work colleagues at your own peril…

  3. Carla Caruso says:

    Fab (very now) article 🙂

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